Synopsis by Nicole Gagne
Unscreened until 1998, almost a decade after Jack Smith's death, I Was a Male Yvonne De Carlo contains footage he'd shot in the 1960s and '70s. The introduction is an unsettling montage of steamy manhole covers (which Smith had sometimes shown as a short called Marshgas of Flatulandia). A pair of transvestites are seen living in a hovel with a shrine to Mario Montez. For Smith, Universal's promotion of Yvonne De Carlo as a replacement for Mario Montez typified how profiteers substitute the ersatz for the genuine, and so he spends most of this film as the titular male version of Yvonne De Carlo: an adored celebrity, bearded and wearing a leopard-print jacket, who endlessly signs his autograph and poses for photographs. The ending consists of film Smith shot of an old New York movie house being demolished, which literalizes the film's themes of cultural vandalism and irreparable loss.